A renowned figurehead in the consumer product arena, A.G Lafley is held in esteem with his decades of experience in turning business units around. In his latest book with Roger Martin, Lafley concisely distills how companies can go about winning, and draws on specific examples from his P&G stint in doing so.
To Lafley, winning begins when business leaders are able to craft a way forward in the following five areas and follow each of them through: i) winning aspiration, ii) where to play, iii) how to win, iv) core capabilities, and v) management systems.
All strategy begins firstly with creating a compelling vision that people would all rally around and support. That drive then translates to the type of playing field that one would like to be involved in before deciding how one would like to win. This then brings one to zero in on one’s core capabilities that become the fuel to propel the machinery forward. Lafley opines that a company needs to “invest disproportionately in building the core capabilities that together produce competitive advantage.” It should then use management systems subsequently to ensure that the processes are running through seamlessly, efficiently, and effectively.
While each part of the entire activity system does not need to be unique in order to create long term competitive advantage, the activity system as a whole has to be inimitable.
At an individual level, leaders are encouraged by Lafley to maintain “assertive inquiry” when it comes to crafting strategy and the approach to doing so successfully requires three key tools. Firstly, advocating one’s position and then inviting responses. Secondly, paraphrasing what we believe to be the other person’s perspective and inquiring on whether we have understood that perspective correctly. Thirdly, explaining a gap in our understanding of other perspectives, and asking for more information. Inquiry, Lafley opines, “leads the other person to genuinely reflect and hear your advocacy rather than ignoring it and making their own advocacy in response”.
The good: the authors reinforce learning points at the end of each chapter. Each concept is well-harnessed with specific examples from Lafley’s experiences at P&G.
The bad: while it is good for practitioners, this book may not be strong for academics and researchers apart from the examples that they can glean from.
Overall, an excellent read. Highly recommended for those who are involved in strategic planning and management!
**Share the Magazine with your executive colleagues and friends!
Follow the Magazine:
(After you have filled in your email address in the column at the right hand side of the screen, a confirmation email will sent to your email address. You will have to confirm it before subscription begins)
Follow us on Twitter:
Like us on Facebook:
**As part of the Magazine’s drive to reward subscribers/followers, we will be providing subscribers/followers special access to exclusive content which will not be otherwise available to normal visitors. Please be sure to subscribe to the Magazine. Many visitors have given us positive comments that they will be bookmarking the site, but as the system is unable to capture a working email address to which the passcodes for exclusive content will be sent, they will miss out on this content. Do note that passcodes are locked to each exclusive content, not a one-for-all access, so do provide a working email address that you check regularly so as not to miss out on them!